Airport tower workers rely on their eyes
Without air traffic controllers, airline pilots would be flying blind; here’s what else only an air traffic controller knows.
Air traffic controllers who work in airport towers spend as much time looking out their windows as they do at the radar screen. “In short, we sit staring out of the window a lot,” Dutch air traffic controllers Feike and Carlijn explains on the KLM Airlines blog. “In fact, we can handle more traffic if we can see it directly than if we have to rely on technology.” In bad weather, ATCs can’t see as well, which is why those days can mean delays for passengers.
Not all air traffic controllers work at the airport
“While air traffic control towers are certainly the most visible part of our workplaces, tower controllers are only responsible for the airport surfaces and the airspace immediately surrounding the airport,” air traffic controller “Vic Vector” explains on thepointsguy.com. The air traffic in the airspace around major airports is controlled by ATCs who work in “dark, windowless rooms, sometimes hundreds of miles away from the airspace they’re watching [via radar].”
They’re not on the ground waving their arms around
The people directing runway traffic are called “ground marshallers.” Air traffic controllers (ATCs) are different: ATCs are responsible for the safe, orderly, and expeditious movement of air traffic through the nation’s airspace. For example, ATCs ensure that aircraft remain at safe distances from one another. They also guide pilots away from bad weather. Essentially, air traffic controllers tell pilots where and when to fly, reports airline KLM.